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Manage Your Office Romance

Hooking up at the workplace may have its ups and downs. Find out how YOU can make the relationship work, without compromising your career.

Picture this: You have a massive crush on an adorable hunk who’s smart, funny, and just perfect. Every time you see him, you have the urge to rip off his clothes—and he wants you just as badly. There’s just one little hitch: He’s your coworker.

If you’re tempted to indulge in a steamy work romance, you’re far from alone. Truth is, hooking up at work is becoming increasingly common, and it isn’t just TV hotties and horny junior staffers who are doing it.

That said, the line separating the harmless work fling from the one that can get your butt fired can be pretty fine, so it pays to be work-sex savvy. Consider this Cosmo’s Guide to Sex at Work.

Hookup Hurdles

Dating on the job can have serious career consequences. Here are the rules:

  1. Some companies forbid dating between coworkers and are real sticklers about enforcing their anti-fraternization policies.

  2. Experts estimate that only one business in eight has written rules on interoffice dating. To ferret out unofficial rules, you may have to be sly. Mention to a coworker that you heard two staffers once got married and you’re hoping to get as lucky. Then see if you’re discouraged from pursuing that.

  3. Boss–subordinate relationships are frowned upon even in companies that don’t have official policies against them (due to fears of sexual harassment).

  4. Even businesses that don’t discourage dating are making couples sign “love contracts,” which stipulate that the relationship is consensual.

  5. No matter how sly you two are, your officemates will figure it out.

Protect Your Job Rep

Experts say that no matter how laid-back your company is, you should still follow these guidelines to preserve your respectability. (Note: If someone at work sees you with your skirt over your head, it’s a lost cause.)

  1. Only go for a same-level colleague (ideally in another department). And be prepared: If one of you gets promoted and becomes the other’s boss, you may have to break it off—or find a new job.

  2. Once you’re an item, have a plan for at-work behavior. “Talk about how you’ll conduct yourselves at the office and how you’ll end it if it doesn’t work out,” advises Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach in East Moriches, New York, and author of Coach Yourself to a New Career.

  3. If you’re busted by your boss, come clean. “Request a meeting and assure her that your relationship won’t affect your work,” says Brown-Volkman. “That said, if you weren’t caught red-handed, zip your lip. As long as your romance follows policy, you don’t need to announce it.”

  4. Be a model employee in every other way. If you go above and beyond at work, no one will be able to accuse you of letting your relationship distract you from your duties. Read: You’re free to mix business with pleasure.